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T-Mobile VoLTE is Live in San Francisco

T-Mobile went live with VoLTE service in Seattle back at the end of May. As of this week, they have expanded to San Francisco, according to CEO John Legere.

For those not familiar, Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) allows users to place higher quality voice calls over their LTE data connection, but also use data at the same time. It is the future of LTE, a service that both AT&T and Verizon have already announced plans for. AT&T launched VoLTE on May 23 in a handful of smaller markets, while Verizon is waiting until later this year to go live with a full, nationwide launch

Currently, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, LG G Flex, and Sony Xperia Z on T-Mobile can take advantage of VoLTE.

On a related note, we have also heard from readers who are seeing VoLTE service in Chicago and NYC.

Via:  @JohnLegere
Cheers Paul!
  • Suman Gandham

    Where in the settings menu would one look to find VoLTE status please?

  • Trysta

    I’ve always assumed from how it was presented by the tech press that VoLTE was a good thing but what is the advantage of this for the consumer? If I have a decent LTE signal then voice call quality is never an issue and why would I want a voice call to take up my limited data rather than my unlimited voice minutes?!

    • Andrew

      As far as I’ve seen, volte won’t use data, it will use minutes just like before..
      Its “good” for consumers because it will eventually allow our phones to have a single radio running in them thus lowering power consumption and increasing battery life, also it will be higher quality audio. But other than that I’m not sure.

  • Blue Sun

    I find it interesting that the S5 isn’t on that list yet the Note 3 is. Overall this is a step in the right direction. I’d like to see more competition between the carriers.

  • Paul Hansen

    Chicago Los Angeles and New York City have all been live for a while as well. Like 2 days after Seattle

  • too band about Sprint buying them….

  • Terrence Adams

    Carriers will probably differentiate the VOLTE traffic and mark it as voice usage. I doubt very seriously that they will charge it as traditional data.

    • coolsilver

      Correct Existing 3g CDMA calls are already VOIP (Data). Nothing will change how calls are billed as such for Verizon

      • Zach B.

        Actually in the case of CDMA-based networks, EV-DO (3g for CDMA) isn’t designed to handle voice. When you place a call, it falls back to the 2g standard 1xRTT. As far as I know, this has applied even since the implementation of LTE. Given that is still the case, there will be changes on their end, but I don’t imagine your bill reflecting anything noticeable. This is assuming they don’t do something stupid like separate voice and VoLTE plans.

  • eibook

    Maybe the network engineers should worry about fixing the MMS issues they have had on their network for over two weeks. I can handle the spotty coverage but not being able to reliably send/receive Group and Picture messages is unacceptable.

  • MyDataLimitAin’tMyFriend

    “…allows users to place higher quality voice calls over their LTE data connection, but also use data at the same time.”

    What’s the point if a carrier has cap on the amount of data you use? (AT&T/Verizon)

    • Ralph Bretz

      That’s what I was wondering. If you only have 2GB of data a month on either AT&T or Verizon but VOLTE uses your data you are screwed once it moves to VOLTE full time.

      • Cael

        Either theyre going to be able to differentiate the two or they are going to introduce new separate more expensive VOLTE data prices.

      • antwonw

        Read my response above.

    • Are people really still worried about their voice minutes using data? Just because it uses the same platform as data, doesn’t mean the carriers will not keep it separate from data usage.

      • pbolton70

        They will have to just for COS issues. They will not want issues with the data side effecting voice quality of the calls.

      • michael arazan

        I’d be more worried of them padding the data usage to make it look like you are using more data to buy bigger packages.

        We can see and count our data in Android but as far as I know, their is no way for the consumer to keep track of the data we use for own VoLTE service, which will allegedly be separate, once it is in use. Maybe Google will show us that at I/O. But I hope their are a dev or two thinking about this.

    • It means you’re actually able to use LTE for other applications during calls.

    • antwonw

      Looking through these comments, there is obviously some confusion. Let me explain. EDGE and GPRS are protocols for the GSM standard. These protocols and give the user access to both data and voice, but not necessiarly at the same time. You can make and receive calls over either of these protocols and well as download and upload data. This works the same way for HSPA and HSPA+, which are protocols for the UMTS standard. Again, one can do both voice and data over the protocol and standard, and in some cases, at the same time (this is my understanding, correct me if I’m wrong). The quality of voice and speed of the data are far superior those of the GSM standard. In comes LTE. LTE is the new standard, and built a bit differently than GSM/UMTS. It is capible of voice and data, also allowing both to be using at the same time regardless of other factors as with the other standard. Again, as with UMTS, the quality of the voice and spped of the data are exponentially superior.

      So why can’t we make voice calls on your LTE phones now? Well that’s simple. These big networks were in a data speed race, and still are, but to a lesser extent. It was all about getting their network to a faster speed before the other networks. They didn’t want to spend the extra money and time then to re-engineer their voice call network to make LTE calls (remember that LTE is built different than GSM/UMTS which use circuits for their voice calls.). So as a result the carriers just pushed LTE data to the mass but took their time on developing a way to make voice calls over the network. In the end there were/are three way to make voice calls over LTE: Voice over LTE (VoLTE) which is IP based calling, think Vontage or Google Hangouts calling from Gmail or Google+; Circuit-switched fallback (CSFB) which falls back to the circuit switched domain for the call but uses LTE for data (too complicated to explain right now); and lastly Simultaneous voice and LTE (SVLTE) which uses LTE and circuit switched modes simultaneously.

      In the end, the major carriers decided to go the VoLTE route. As it stand now, most of our phone a lack software support for VoLTE and the networks lack core devices to support it.

      As for how the network will differentiate a voice packet from a non-voice packet: Well, VoLTE uses a IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) network to make the calls.

      So right there you have your answer. No need to fret about chewing threw all your data to make calls.

  • Richard Yarrell

    Tmobile definitely doing big things.

    • anon

      Wow No “Samsung has better VoLTE than all other OEM’s” Richard im surprised….

    • PoisonApple31

      Why don’t they do bigger things and put up some fricken towers? Lots of EDGE going on yet.

  • Gregg Sarra

    Nexus 5 from Long Island here and I’ve noticed VoLTE calls happening for me with three other T-Mobile friends from my area as well.

    • Jason Kahn

      Did you have to do anything setting wise on the Nexus 5 I’m in NYC and have not seen this yet

      • Gregg Sarra

        Didn’t do a thing, first noticed it about two or three months ago when I called another N5 Tmo friend of mine, call sounded like a Skype or Hangout video call but definitely was placed using the dialer and we were both really confused and thought we video called each other at first.

        • Jason Kahn

          I’ll pay attention, to my network bars, I also guess it matter who you call, as AT&T and VZW don’t have this yet I would I imagine it would make little to no difference. Was your friend on T-Mobile? or a Digital Landline?

          • Gregg Sarra

            All three friends were on T-Mobile when I could tell a huge noticeable difference.

      • Gregg Sarra

        Also, called another Tmo user who has a Blackberry. It sounded like a call placed over data/video call on my end but he said he could not tell any difference.

    • Marc

      I didn’t know the N5 can do VoLTE. HD Voice yes, but not VoLTE…
      TMo also says it’s limited right now to the LG Flex and two Samsung phones.

      • Gregg Sarra

        Maybe that’s what it is? Would I still hear it from non-N5 devices though? Only one of my three friends I’ve noticed a difference with has an N5.

        • Marc

          Yeah. Quite a lot of devices are HD Voice capable.

          • Gregg Sarra

            Does it only work on the same carrier though?

          • Marc

            Not 100% sure, but I think so. Same carrier and capable phones.

    • Simon Belmont

      I was wondering if my N5 could do VoLTE. I assume it’s possible.

      I wonder if that’s another thing they’re working on around me. T-Mobile texted me and said they were working on the LTE network in my area, though I’ve enjoyed great LTE from them since I’ve had a capable phone (the aforementioned N5).

  • interstellarmind

    aghk. wish my Nexus 5 could partake in the VoLTE goodness.

    I guess this’d be as good a reason as any to get a Nexus 6 (assuming they make one before the shift to the Silver program)!

  • Chahk Noir

    Does it still use the plan’s minutes?

    • The Present

      A plan with minutes?

      • jimt

        Verizon people with unlimited data. I had unlimited data and 700 minutes and had to pay for texts, before I dumped it and went to T-Mobile with unlimited everything